Sewing Tips: Basics #1

We had such a great response to our post last month about How to Fall in Love With Your Sewing Machine, so we thought we would share some more of our sewing tips with you today. We are starting with a few basic things and we are planning more of these so if there is anything specifically that you would like tips on, maybe bias binding or zips? Let us know. Also why not check out my fabric buying tips and pattern advice from last year. Lets get going..,..

Threads:
  • If you're not sure which colour to use on a jazzy fabric try and stick to the most dominant colour or the colour of the background. If there isn't an obvious choice go for the darkest colour, it will always show less that a lighter thread. 
  • The same theory applies when trying to match a thread colour in general, if you can't find a perfect match go a shade darker as it will show less.
  • Threads will always look darker on the reel than off it as a single strand. Guttermann threads have a little magic trick to help, their bottoms are loose so you can twist them to free the thread loose to check it against your fabric. 
Machine needles:
  • Most brands of machine needles will fit any domestic sewing machine. When you are looking at needles their sizes (ie. 90/14 or 80/12) refers to the thickness of the needle and therefore which fabric they should be used on. The lower the number the finer the needle and the finer the fabric you will sew with that needle. 
  • There are different needles for different types of fabrics too. Jeans needles are especially for working with Denim and densely woven fabrics, Ballpoint needles can be used for jersey fabrics, but also for silk. Stretch needles are for use with Lycra or swimwear fabrics and quilting needles are designed to go through lots of layers at once. Try and stick to using the right needle for the right job. 
  • We advise that you mark up your needles so you know which are which when they are out of their packets. I use nail polish, but you can use coloured sharpies. The sizes are written on the needles but it is so tiny it can be hard to read. 
  • If you have put a specialist needle in,  remove it when you have finished the job and put it back in the packet so you don't forget which needle is in your machine. 

Tricky fabrics:
  • If you are sewing with waxed fabric or pvc, leatherette or anything sticky you will need a Teflon foot to get a smooth stitch. Not go one of those? Dive into a drawer and use some trusty Scotch magic tape (the one that is slightly misty) to cover the bottom of your normal foot. It is a great alternative until you can get a hold of the real thing. 
  • Sewing jersey or anything stretchy or slippery? Sandwich your fabric with tissue paper to get an even stitch. Or use scraps of interfacing which you can then remove by tearing away when you have finished.
  • Tack, tack, tack. It may seem laborious but it will be worth it in the end.
Patterns:
  • Taken your measurements but still unsure which size to cut out from your pattern sheet? Take a garment similar to the one you want to make that you like the fit of and lay it over the pattern pieces. This will give you a good idea of whether you are on the right track with sizing.
  • If you are working with tricky chiffon or jersey fabrics try cutting out your pattern with a rotary cutter and mat. It stops the fabric from moving around as much as when you use scissors. 
Scissors:
  • Always keep your best scissors for cutting only fabric, cutting paper (even pattern tissue) will blunt them faster. Also avoid using them on beaded or sequin fabrics unless you remove the embellishments from your seam edges first. Avoid wired edge ribbon too.
  • Don't waste your money on cheap scissors, especially pinking shears. Generally speaking you get what you pay for with scissors. A good pair, well looked after should last you a lifetime. 
What are your top tips for sewing, Is there anything else you need or want to know more about? I have had a lot of questions about bias binding lately, is that something you would be interested in as a post here?? Let me know if there are any specific areas that you want tips about and I will see if we can do a post on them.

Sammy xxx

P.S. The gorgeous sewing poster in the first photograph is by Rebecca Stoner, you can now buy them at Sew Crafty Online, Yay!


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3 comments:

  1. Great post! I recently got a sewing machine but have yet to embark on my first project. It's all really confusing when you're just starting out, so any tips are much appreciated :) I recommend the Tilly Walnes book 'Love at first stitch', for any beginners - it's really lovely to read and will hopefully get me started!
    Emma

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  2. Love the tips... we should write a book of essential sewing tips...

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  3. Hi. Loving the tips. I am a fairly new to sewing, not the best by any stretch but love it. Any help is always apprectiated. Can still remember the first tine I mastered the art of filling my bobin and then managing a french seam! xx

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Thanks for your comment. We do read them all and appreciate the support <3
H and Sammy